It’s always a good sign when I stay up late reading because the book is too good to put down. And that’s exactly what happened with The Matchmaker – a feel-good debut from Australian-Pakistani writer, Saman Shad, who draws on her experience growing up as a third culture kid to set her novel in the Pakistani community of Sydney.

The story opens with Saima, a professional matchmaker in the local desi community, meeting her perfect match but being too ‘blind’ to recognise love! Kal (Khalid) is an Australian born son of a well-to-do Pakistani family with looks to give Dev Patel a run for his money. What ensues is a delicious mess of secrets, gossip, and misunderstandings.

Why I gave this perfectly executed rom-com five stars…

I would love to see The Matchmaker adapted for film and hope to one day see the screenplay.

  • Its mix of cultures (as a third culture kid myself, I could totally relate to the push and pull of vastly different cultures).
  • The principal character, Saima, is smart, sassy, and vulnerable.
  • The Sydney setting.
  • Its use of Urdu language and inclusion of Pakistani and Muslim culture and customs.
  • Its well-paced plot with plenty of obstacles to keep the love birds apart for as long as possible.
  • Shad’s smooth writing style – as a picky reader, it really is a joy to read faultless prose in a debut.

The Matchmaker is a delightful and charming novel bursting with cultural nuances. An absolute joy to read.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Matchmaking is easy. Falling in love on the other hand …

Saima knows that she’s a great matchmaker. She has the weekly wedding invitations to prove it. So why has her community started turning against her?

The desi community in Sydney has eyes, ears and mouths everywhere, and Saima’s feeling firsthand the impact gossip can have. Too modern, too focused on compatibility.

She’s about to pack it all up and move back in with her Ammy when an eligible bachelor’s wealthy parents show up at her door. They’re offering the biggest payday she’s had in years, but there’s a catch: she has to convince their son to accept her services without letting on that it’s his parents pulling the strings.

Kal is handsome, successful and starting to worry about his path in life. What does it mean to be a third culture kid? When a woman falls into his life challenging everything he thought he knew about heritage, life and love, it might be the answer he’s been searching for.

But Saima wrote off love a long time ago – has she hardened her heart too much to see what’s right in front of her?

Can a matchmaker recognise a perfect match?

Many thanks to the good folks at Penguin Books for sharing this one with me 🙂